4 coronavirus cases reported on Lanai, the first confirmed infections on the island

Updated: Oct. 20, 2020 at 5:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Health Department is reporting four COVID-19 cases on Lanai, the first confirmed infections diagnosed on the island since the pandemic began.

The state said it was informed of the positive test results Tuesday and is conducting contact tracing.

Officials believe the cases are linked with recent travel.

Three of the four people diagnosed with COVID-19 work at the same location and are experiencing symptoms. The fourth is a healthcare worker who does not provide direct patient care.

All four people are in isolation.

Last week, the governor approved Maui County mayor’s request to allow unrestricted travel between Maui, Molokai and Lanai because the three islands are in the same county.

Lanai residents say that was a huge mistake.

“Even though it was just between Maui County, you’ve now opened the can," said Lanai resident Chelsea Trevino. "We have such a small island and it can spread like wildfire.”

Lanai, population just under 3,000, had previously seen no COVID-19 infections diagnosed on island.

Two Lanai residents had been diagnosed with COVID-19 while off island and had remained away until they were no longer infectious.

With very limited medical facilities, including no ventilators, President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii said any patients needing care beyond Lanai’s capacity would have to be flown to another island.

“There are arrangements in place and protocols to transfer any patients that need more acute care to Maui Memorial Hospital or any other hospital in the state that may be more appropriate," said Hilton Raethel.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino urged Lanai residents to wear face masks and take other precautions to prevent any spread of the virus.

“It was my hope and prayer that we would have no cases on Lanai, but we understand how quickly this virus can spread in our communities,” he said, in a news release.

“We support the Department of Health’s work to monitor these cases, which are in isolation, and conduct contact tracing to help protect our Lanai residents.”

State and county officials have long considered a COVID-19 outbreak on Lanai as a worst-case scenario, pointing out that the island’s healthcare system is ill-equipped to handle a surge in patients.

In the wake of the cases, drive-thru COVID-19 testing is being offered Saturday at the Old Dole Administration Building in Lanai City from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for individuals ages 15 years and older.

To get an appointment, call the Straub Medical Center – Lanai Clinic at 808-565-6423 or the Lanai Community Health Center at 808-565-6919.

Testing is also available Monday to Saturday at the clinic and health center.

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